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Thread: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

  1. #1

    Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    Hello everyone. I moved to a new state where the weather is much colder than my previous home. I have the opportunity to build a new darkroom here but I have a few challenges and would love to hear your feedback. I have moved to a very remote small town. I have called city hall to find out how I can dispose of chemistry but they don't have any answers for me. This is my biggest issue, before I get started I need to understand how to properly dispose of darkroom chemistry. I use pyrocat in glycol as one of my main developers. I also use d76 and all the other basic kodak chems.

    The biggest concern for me is that we are on a well and I can not risk contaminating our drinking water. I have been told by many people (please don't kill the messenger) that dumping chems is largely benign and that most darkroom chemicals are basically fertilizer. Please understand that I am not condoning this and I am doing every research possible to do this the right way for myself and the environment. However, if true that once used chemistry loses it's toxicity to a large degree is it safe to dump into a septic tank system or similar?

    I moved from a big city where I could have chems picked up or I could bring them to a facility myself but I don't have that luxury anymore. My small town does not have the ability to dispose of these chemicals and I am not sure where else to look. Any help is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    I moved from Chicago where they can handle anything. 5 lbs of mercury no problem. It was in a sealed tube lamp.

    Moved, like you to the middle of nowhere

    No recycling. Once a year hazmat drop off

    My waste goes to a sanitation Lagoon, a treated pond, don't fall in, no problems so far, they test

    Some people evaporate to powder and can it

    Silver recovery is another thing

    However some here burn leaves and trees

    I mulch

  3. #3

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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    Itís a burden but you could just simply boil them off in a big pot, outside.

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    A little bit of time and pyrocat HD is oxidized and inert as best I understand it. Science nerd but not a chemist.

    I live in a rural area (well and septic) and dump most things down the drain with some exception...
    * Used fixer I take to the city and dump down the drain at work where the municipal treatment system can handle it.
    * I do not use chromate chemicals at all. Sometime alt processes like dichromate sensitizers, etc... I skip those processes or use variants without the chromates.

  5. #5

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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    I'm sure it varies state by state. I live in Oregon, and I've checked into this.

    If one is a hobbyist, they can dispose of anything down the drain. At the time that I checked, there were only two chemicals that I would need to worry about. Selenium Toner, and spent fixer. And since that time, I've stopped using Selenium Toner.

    About once per year, Waste Management, our local garbage/landfill concern, has a hazardous waste disposal day where residents can bring household wastes like old paint, thinner, cleaners, etc. There's also a government program that subsidizes hazardous waste disposal for small business.

    With respect to spent fixer, it used to be pretty easy to find a University or a photo processing company that would reclaim the silver. So, it was to their advantage to accept spent fixer from others.

  6. #6

    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi7475 View Post
    Itís a burden but you could just simply boil them off in a big pot, outside.
    You sure? I am not sure I would want anyone to breathe in pyrocat fumes but maybe I am wrong.

  7. #7

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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    Quote Originally Posted by RodinalDuchamp View Post
    You sure? I am not sure I would want anyone to breathe in pyrocat fumes but maybe I am wrong.
    Thatís why I said ďoutsideĒ. Iím imagining doing it in the backyard, away from where people would be hanging outÖ.

  8. #8

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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    Most developers (pyrocat included, I'm fairly sure) and stop baths can be disposed of in a septic system. The developer components end up being inert and non-toxic. Stop bath is just acetic (or citric) acid and not nearly as strong as what you put on your salad; no problems there.

    Used fixer has silver compounds in it. I prefer to take my used fixer to a photofinisher for silver recovery. They are glad to get it (I let them keep the silver = $). Any commercial photo lab or university or community darkroom need to have silver-recovery systems. In lieu of that, small amounts can be dumped into a municipal sewage system. Septic tanks may deal with small amounts as well. See post #17 in the following discussion about chemical disposal: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...disposal/page2

    You can also recover the silver yourself. There are several methods, from simply tossing in some steel wool to small silver-recovery units. A bit of research here and on the rest of the Internet should get you all the info you need if you decide to go this route. After silver recovery, used fixer can be dumped into your septic system.

    Selenium toner can be replenished and reused indefinitely; no need to ever dump it. Just filter before and after use.

    Wash water has trace amounts of silver in it, but not enough to be significant.

    I used a darkroom for years that was on a septic system and had zero problems dumping developers and stops.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  9. #9
    Ironage's Avatar
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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    I use this.

    https://www.digitaltruth.com/product...k=silvermagnet

    Not sure about your pyrocat, but the rest should be no problem.
    ...Dilettante! Who you calling a Dilettante?

  10. #10

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    Re: Darkroom from zero: Chems disposal

    B/W developers (like pyrocat) oxidize and break down chemically over time; they are not generally a problem.
    Stop bath is just vinegar.
    The real problem is silver- that should be recovered. I donate my used fixer to the local photo lab- they have been happy to put it through their recovery system. Probably not an option for you?
    Kodak once had a useful publication on chem disposal. Perhaps they still have something on their website; I'll have a look.

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